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Saturday, October 24, 2020

THE ONE LAW THAT WILL FIX AMERICA












It was with some surprise but also relief that I opened yesterday’s mail and beheld the letter emblazoned with the seal of the United States Senate.
 
The letter told me plainly that I had been chosen to be King of America. There was a whiff of warning in the letter’s tone which I admit I didn’t like. The line about “do not lose your head over this” also seemed pretty snarky, and someone apparently felt the need to underline in red the sentence stating that this was only in effect until the next President was sworn in on January 20. Jesus Christ, I thought. Commit or don’t.
 
But still, I am relieved that I have been given this job and all its powers, which appear to be total. This is going to come in handy, because America is in a world of hurt and needs fixing fast.
 
The first thing I did was sit down at my worktable and begin to work on the basic rule by which I would fix the country. (I did not, you’ll note, call up for the jet or demand to be taken to my golf course.)
 
You might be surprised by what I wrote down. I certainly was.
 
“Fix the sleeping problem.”
 
I stared at this awhile, but then realized that this was a pretty important issue. The whole country – perhaps even the whole world – is having a sleeping problem. People are either not able to sleep or, when they are able, they’re having extraordinarily vivid nightmares, and not the good kind. We’re talking about being on the run from Death Star stormtroopers while having to drag Aunt Sadie along with you, or being sent back to high school but with no pants. As a result, people are losing their minds.
 
So this is serious. But I’m not stupid. I realized that the sleep problem is merely a symptom. Therefore to solve it, I would have to dig a little deeper. My first thought toward a solution (make the Shamrock shake a year-round proposition) was pleasant, but probably not as effective as perhaps is needed.
 
I knuckled down, sharpened the pencil and went at it a little more seriously.
 
Here’s what I wrote:
 
“Get rid of the three cable news networks.” 
 
I surprised myself with this. Then, in the name of fairness and free enterprise (I am, after all, a temporary King, not a despot), I rubbed that out and wrote in, “Limit the three cable news network licenses to three hours a day.”
 
Don’t kid yourself. This would do a lot. You have no idea what it would do. In my own house, there’s far too much of it on far too often, and in the outside world it’s constant. Ask any hospital floor nurse and they will tell you: patients have Fox news on 24 hours a day – yes, even when they’re sleeping – and that’s when they’re trying to recover from disease.
 
So just imagine if our consumption of this stuff were limited to what we need to know. Now there’s an outmoded concept. I’d go back to the 6:30 news and keep it at that. I’d even let the anchors smoke on-air if they want. But bottom line: there is no American who can say we are better off for the flood of info-entertainment-news we consume. And in a digital age, access to multiple newspapers is easy as pie. Read the damned newspaper.
 
“Disengage the Dow from normal people as much as possible.”
 
There will be many scoffers at this, but those who scoff – I guarantee you – are armchair bullshitters, mostly men, who talk about “the economy” as if they have some control over it. In fact, there are two periods when average folks were similarly and directly tied to the stock market, and both were disasters. The first was in the 1920’s, and we know where buying on margin took us. The second came after the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999, when Bill Clinton pretty much set us on an idiot’s course to perpetual middle-class debt. Since then we’ve had economic collapse after economic collapse, including the Great Recession, and, more importantly, a widening chasm between the booms of Wall Street and what is now perpetual Main Street Desolation. We’re living this unnatural contrast today: in the midst of the worst pandemic in more than 100 years, with 230 million Americans dead, with unemployment over 10%, the Dow is... booming!
 
What does that mean? It means the Dow is utterly disengaged from the reality of day-to-day Americans. That’s not good. Yet it still holds sway over all of us, not least in the form of the idiotic 401k.
 
That was next on my list.
 
“Make people’s retirement safe again.”
 
Easy peasy. Don’t let speculators and the psychopaths on Wall Street mess with your ability to buy a can of soup after aged seventy. Tie retirement to a proper government plan that is secure, and no more speculation. Think bonds, not equities. And if assholes on Wall Street want to gamble with money – which they totally have a right to do - let it be their own. And if they screw it up, let them go broke or go to jail.
 
(Note: 401k’s were invented in 1978, so clearly we don’t need such a volatile instrument. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who had their retirement savings wiped out due to the rapacious Wall Street incompetents of 2008.)
 
“Minimum wage.”
 
Just do it. Fifteen bucks for companies over twenty-five employees. I used to be skeptical about this, but not one legit study has managed to show that this truly hurts small business owners or communities. Zillions of governments have done it. Besides, what else are we going to do? Fifty percent of this country can’t lay their hands on $400 in the event of an economic emergency. Do we consider that healthy? (Eventually we’re going to a 30-hour workweek and a UBI, but I’m only King till January 20.)
 
“Infrastructure.”
 
Ask a trucker. Ask someone who RV’s. Ask me. This country is falling apart. Physically. If you’ve ever driven over a bridge that rains rust down on the folks below you, you know what I’m talking about. This has to be fixed. It’s not even a hand-out. It’s called capital investment. I tell you, sometimes people in Congress are so full of shit...
 
“Tax the rich.”
 
I don’t even mean the $400,000 people! Is that rich? Really? I'm talking about people who have a boat that doesn’t bring in fish. If you have a boat and it doesn’t bring in fish, you pay more in taxes.
 
“People need longer and real vacations.”
 
Just go find a German who lives in Germany and ask how they feel after the six-week vacation with their family. They’re READY to go back to work!  They’re rested and roaring to go! Hopefully building a bridge.
 
“Certain people need more pay and serious healthcare, including mental healthcare.” 
 
Underneath this I wrote down: “firefighters, healthcare workers, airline pilots.” Who wants these people to be grumpy? Or distracted? Or thinking about how it’s not worth it? (This list could be longer, but it’s a start.)
 
“Higher taxes on houses larger than small amusement parks.”
 
I know it’s an American’s inalienable right to be a gross pig if you’ve managed get your hands on that much dough, but how is that attitude working so far? Nope. If you have a house whose square footage starts with a “1” and the second digit isn’t a comma, you simply have to pay more tax. For the bridge.
 
“Do more for libraries.”
 
I can’t really pinpoint what I wanted here, but I can’t see how this just isn’t right. Maybe I meant more books? Bookmobiles? Love bookmobiles! I don’t know what I meant, but I’m King and that's just the way it's going to go.
 
“College costs.”
 
So… you went to law school with some idea you were going to help people? And you graduate with $200,000 in debt? Well, the only way you’re going to pay that back is by working for law firms working to not help people – which was the idea to begin with. You’re in fact going to spend your life making sure that zillionaires can pay their workers $5 an hour, have houses bigger than amusement parks, and pay no taxes on their boats. Or maybe you become a lobbyist ensuring that as a nation we cut back on bookmobiles and ensure that fund managers can get access to your grade three teacher’s retirement fund so they can burn it up in credit default swaps or snort blow off a hooker’s ass. I personally don’t think these are good ideas or terrific small town values. At the very least put student loans at market value. Right now, the average student loan interest rate is 5.8%. Today’s prime is 3.2%. Huh?
 
“Climate change.”
 
Also easy peasy. Cut the crap. And stop talking about “the economy.” Again, more armchair asshole pontificating. Look at a picture of an emaciated polar bear. Then the fires in California. The economy!  Stop talking about the economy. You're being lied to.
 
I was coming to the end of my piece of paper now, and I had to write crawling up the side, but I managed to get my last, and most important Kingly decree in.
 
“Teach Civics.”
 
Oh boy. Ohhh boy. Sometimes when the monarch hits it, he gets it right. Here’s a painful fact: we are all stupid. Woefully stupid. And one of the things we're most stupid about is the root cause of 99% of our problems: people don’t know how they’re governed and why they’re governed.
 
The fault isn't theirs. It's the folks who run things. They decided a long time ago that we no longer need to teach civics in school.
 
And it’s easy to fix. I swear, I could teach civics to each middle-class classroom in America, one day a year, and a whole new generation would be better informed than they are now. One day a year.  Hell, why should I do it?  Just give my son a car and a roadmap and a bridge that doesn’t pee rust and he's there. Except, we aren’t going to do this, and we aren’t going to do it for a very good reason: because an uninformed electorate is a controllable electorate. You can tell a moron anything, and if you do it over and over again, he’ll believe it, especially if he has nothing to weigh it against.
 
I didn’t have room on the paper for my very very very last King decree, but I realized only at the end what it had to be. Unfortunately, I also realized it would make all my other decrees pointless. It would also, sadly, make the need for my Kingship pointless. But wake up the statistician at the party, or do a little quick reading, and you’ll see I’m right.
 
You ready?
 
Everything I just listed can happen easy peasy if we just enforce one simple rule.
 
“Don’t let guys like me vote.”
 
I don’t mean my politics. And this isn't a "woke" thing, or an apology. Just check out the poll numbers if you don't believe me. Take a look at who is propping Trump up.
 
“Don’t let white men over 50 without a college degree vote.”
 
There. Done. Think about it. 



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